Pristine beaches in the Atlantic rainforest
13.11.2012 - 15.12.2012 30 °C
One of my oldest friends in Arraial d'Ajuda, Leo, I wouldn't see for blocks of time. He spent alot of time in Itacare. He's a surfer and Itacare has good waves and is a surfing spot. I was invited many times and told it was beautiful and very different from Arraial d'Ajuda. For years I said yeah yeah I'll get there. Going through a restless phase I ran into him and asked to let me know when he was going again. He called on a Saturday night and said he was going the next morning. I packed and told the house caretaker of my plans and went to sleep anticipating a new adventure. He had a car that was low to the ground so we drove slowly as to not damage the underbelly on the uneven dirt roads. He played reggae all the way. So we're driving slowly and groovin' to reggae. That was the rhythm which was all too fitting for Itacare. It would be a 6 hour drive. Itacare is north of Arraial d'Ajuda. Arraial d'Ajuda is part of The Discovery Coast and Itacare is located in The Cocoa Coast. The cocoa industry once thriving was devasted years ago. The cocoa tree is short and needed shade so the Atlantic Rainforest was preserved as an accidental byproduct. It was a beautiful day and it was a pleasure taking in the changing scenery. You can tell what part of Bahia you're in by the different types of coconut trees. Itacare and the Cocoa Coast have taller skinnier palm trees. As we made our approach an odor was present that I couldn't identify. We were passing a chocolate factory that was once either the biggest producer of chocolate in the world or Brazil. Visits can be arranged but our goal was to get where we were going. When we arrived we parked the car and went straight to the beach. The town is very small. There are two stretches of the main strip. On the way to the beach there are restaurants, shops, alot of surfing gear and rental places, ice cream shops and supermarkets, and bike rentals. My main thing was to check out the inhabitants. Or in other words see who was there. Alot of young beachy surfer types, Brazilians from other parts of the country and Europeans. Of course at this particular time in the afternoon the majority of people were at other beaches and doing other activities. The nearest beach was not even a 3 minute walk away. It was nice but not spectacular. Leo explained that we'd go to the intense beaches in the days to come. Still it was a different type of beach that I was used to, but had that "Bahia" feel. I happily checked out the chicks, liked the visual of the different type of palm tree and noticed the scene. One part of the beach was chill and the other had beach bar-restaurants and music playing. Some people just tanned, others were romping in the waves, of course drinking and eating, and a general vibe of fun, fun, fun. I felt at home. Leo got me a room in a hotel owned by his friend for a very cheap price. I didn't want to stay right on the strip because I was wary of noise all through the night. After all most people are here to party! Leo stayed at a friends' house and we agreed to meet later after a shower and a good rest. As with all beach towns in Brazil the town is empty and most places close during the day because everyone is out at beaches. The evening begins at a slow pace. It begins to wake up. Alot of couples, young people trying to figure how to stay as long as possible and the natives. The main strip has restaurants with outside tables with a view of everyone passing. Clothing stores selling tropical fashion w/alot of handsewn and locally made items. Souvenir stores and always an abundance of tee shirt stores, cyber cafes and food markets. We chose a restaurant mainly because of the guy out front soliciting customers. He was funny. I cook everyday and don't like eating out very much. I'm also a vegetarian who eats fish. Rather than pay for a meal of what may not taste good or be expensive I always ask if they have PF. That is something very good to know of while traveling in Brazil. It means a meal of rice, beans, salad and fish or chicken or meat for a cheap price. This way I know what I'm getting and i'st usually what I want. Leo struck up a conversation w/two girls sitting next to us who were from Sao Paulo vacationing in Itacare for the first time. After we walked around then went to a restaurant and danced Forro. Leo and his match seemed to hit it off. The next day was BEACH DAY. Hopped into his car and headed outta town. I love when I don't have an idea of where I'm going. We drove for about 20 minutes on the the road we took getting here in the opposite direction. All of a sudden we stopped, parked and walked into the forest. This was serious Atlantic Rainforest. No signs or real trails. You have to know where you are going. Refreshing, thrilling and fun as we walked for about 40 minutes. At one point we were on a cliff overlooking a beach called 'Little Hawaii', but we didn't descend we were going to a beach called Jeribucacu. As I stepped onto the beach emerging from the forest I saw what looked like an illusion. It looked like a beach from prehistoric times. Totally untouched, empty, coconut trees, lots of sand and a vast expanse of beach. It was a place unto its own world. My eyes popped open. Leo saw my face smiled and said "I told you". There was a guy w/what looked like a very big 12 yr olds wooden lemonade stand selling coconut water, water, beer, sandwiches and pineapples. That's it no one else hawking anything. Standing there my first moments I felt at one w/nature. Because it's a bay it seemed closed off and private. All mine. W/beach development, eco-tourism and world changes I thought the beach spoke to me. It said "I've been here since the beginning of time, this is what I've always been and you can't change me!". As the day wore on I felt energized, I loved it more and more. Leo surfed while I tanned, exercised, did sprints(the sand is level w/lots of space), and played w/my spalding pink ball. Couldn't ask for more. The few people who were there were spread out. One thing for sure we all knew that we were lucky. Just before the time came to leave I thought oh no we have to make that long trek back. The day's pureness gave me an inner light and energy that strengthened me in so many ways that the trip back was easy. Dinner at the same place and I got to get a feel for the town a bit more. The next day was a beach called Prainha (little beach). We walked not even 5 minutes past the beaches that are right in town into the forest. Once again you have to know where you're going. Passing streams, ascending, walking through the rainforest, posing for pictures on cliffs overlooking the ocean for about 45 minutes. In a spot that I thought was hightly unlikely a guy was selling pineapples. I thought what a ridiculous place to sell this. While the first slice was bursting w/flavor in my mouth I realized his genius. This trek may be too difficult for the elderly or those out of shape. Once again we arrived at a bay that was mind blowing. A totally different type of beach. A different level of crazy beautiful. It just took me away. Once again Leo surfed and I ttanned, exercised and sprinted. These beaches lead to introspection and inspiration. These beaches are little secrets. Coincidentally we ran into those two girls we met at dinner that night. I saw Leo and his girl holding hands and I gave him a sly smile. They asked to go back w/us cuz they didn't know the way. The next couple of days were filled with white water rafting, waterfall climbing, eco-bike riding, zip lining and enjoyng life. There's not much to the town of itself. Once you leave the main tourist hub the town is very ugly and should only be seen once only to see what it is. There are alot of Israelis who make this part of their Bahia route. It's funny seeing the Israeli guys shirtless and in surfer pants posing as surfers. Totally out of shape and refusing to wear a shirt even in restaurants. Itacare has pristine beaches, heavily preserved Atlantic rainforest, and lots of eco/adventure tourism. It's also a very romantic spot. It's easy to be secluded in luxury and affordable hotels. Just coming here for the beaches and doing nothing else is enough!